I am honoured, deeply honoured to find my image back to back with Her Majesty the Queen on a Canadian circulation coin.
That is quite a leap for a boy who grew up mainly in the east side of Vancouver above G. L Pops Fur Store at Sixth and Main, who rode the street cars to school and delivered piles of newspapers every day.
It is 74 years since Province Photographer Claude Dettloff caught me in hot pursuit of my marching father.
The photo speaks for itself, a moment in time captured forever. The people of Canada, in their appreciation, have given the picture a life of its own.
A large copy exists in the war museum in Ottawa. It has been featured on book covers, in books, in newspapers and magazines, on poppy posters, and even on a tea caddy sponsored by the Royal Canadian Legion.
Over the years many people, including the media, have contacted me in person or via phone, letter and now internet, mostly just to talk about the photo or identify with it.
The story in the picture is reality – my father went to war.
To answer a most frequently asked question, “yes, Sergeant Jack Bernard returned safely home five years later Oct. 1945.”
My parents are both gone now, but, had she been alive, my mother certainly would have enjoyed all the notoriety.
As for my father, I’m not sure of his reaction. It took many years before he even spoke of his war experiences.
The second most asked question is ‘What happened to the little boy?’ Well, as you know, he is now cast in bronze, he shares the honor of being on a coin with the Queen, he finds himself on a Canadian postage stamp.
But it was the circumstances of the day that placed the 5 year old there.
A talented photographer (Claude Dettloff) recorded the scene.
The real story – I have had an adventurous, exciting and successful life.
My wife, Ruby and I just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary.
I have 4 children and 6 grandchildren.
I live in the most beautiful part of B.C. – Tofino on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
In my retirement I am president of Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 65, secretary treasurer of Tofino Salmon Enhancement Society, people’s warden at St. Columba Anglican Church, and an advisor to Ducks Unlimited – among other things! And that’s retirement A moment in time, 74 years ago. Subsequent to the photo appearing in the paper, I was ‘drafted’ you may say, to assist in the victory bond drives to raise money for the war effort.
I pointed to the picture and said ‘Please buy a bond to help bring my daddy home’.
The organizers referred to me as the ‘boy in service’.
Well, the (almost) 80-year-old ‘boy’ is still in service.